Somehow I’ve made it to 10 months in this country. About a year ago I was fretting and planning for the ‘big adventure’ which mostly included scouring blogs and deciding what to bring. Since the 109ers will be making their debut in Ecuador in about 2 months, I’ve come up with my very own short list of must-haves.
Sure you can find just about every movie ever made in a pirated DVD store but there’s nothing like having 5 seasons of Sex & The City or The West Wing readily available when you want to curl up in your concrete room. I also use random clips from movies/TV shows for English lessons with the teachers. Win win situation for everybody.
Supply of makeup/deoderant/face wash
Besides the fact that you can only find quality stuff at large supermarkets (read: at least a bus ride from most PC sites), all of this is ridiculously expensive in Ecuador. Bring enough to last a while or have a loving friend/family member send you the goods.
Ziploc Storage Containers
These have turned into my medicine cabinet, drawer organizers, and food containers. Plastic wrap/regular ziplocs are hard to come by (not to mention rough on the environment) so these have come in very handy. They were also great for packing all the little stuff you don’t want running loose in your suitcase/backpack.
Although I live in eternal fall, I use these almost everyday to go from my room to the kitchen (outside and down the stairs). Also great for hostels and visits to the jungle and coast.
Travel Shampoo Bottles
In 10 months, I have mastered the art of packing for weekend/week-long trips in a small backpack. Travel bottles are absolutely necessary.
Travel Space Bags
Equally important for weekend/week-long packing adventures. Trust me, you want to have the smallest bag/least amount of stuff to worry about when traveling by public bus in Ecuador.
Peace Corps gives you one bottle when you get your med kit but after that, you’re on your own. This stuff is also expensive here, like $14 a bottle! Bring at least an extra bottle and if you’re lucky enough to be placed in the jungle/on the coast, have a supply sent to you. Yes, the sun is brighter on the equator.
Small Zip Wallet
Great for short trips out to the bakery or local tienda. Ecuador is definitely cash-based so don’t expect to use a credit card anywhere. Also large bills are hard to deal with so be prepared to carry lots of coins around.
Over the Shoulder Purse
Unfortunately petty crime, i.e. purse snatching, is pretty common. Its good to have something that goes across your body and can be kept in site at all times, especially on crowded busses, trolley rides through Quito, or nights in sketchy discotecas.
Accordian File Folder
Super handy for the ridiculous amount of paper you will be given during training.
2->3 Prong Plug Adapters
These can be found here but its nice to have them already, especially when you first arrive and haven’t figured out where to find all the little gadgets yet.
And last but certainly not least…
You really just never know when you’ll need it. I took it along with my homemade lunch everyday to training for the first few months in country, I used it to eat a quick almuerzo while waiting for a bus at a terminal in Quito, and I’ve used it as a knife to cut random fruit at the market.